This was a complex catastrophic injury case, where we represented two young girls, ages 8 and 10 (Minor 1 and 2). Minor 1 and 2 were severely injured when their grandmother lost control of her car and inexplicably drove into the opposite side of the lane on Interstate-88 near San Joaquin, and into the path of an oncoming vehicle at approximately 65-70 miles per hour. The force of the impact was devastating, the teenage driver of the oncoming vehicle did not survive the impact, and her passenger received multiple fractures.
Minor 1 was air-lifted by helicopter from the scene of the accident to UC Davis Medical Center. She suffered multiple life threatening injuries, including: hip fractures, damage to her pancreas, liver and spleen, rib fractures, and a spinal compression fracture, requiring multiple surgeries. Due to the severe injuries to her internal organs, she will require preventative antibiotic treatment until the age of 18. Overall, she amassed over $650,000 worth of medical bills. Minor 2 suffered multiple life threating injuries, including: liver laceration, pancreatic contusion, rib fractures, and a left humerus fracture, requiring multiple surgeries. She amassed over $580,000 worth of medical bills. Mr. Minami and Ms. Yang negotiated lien reductions with Kaiser for their total medical bills from $1,230,000 to $60,000, allowing the minors a far greater settlement than they would have received.
Both of the parties in the other vehicle, the passenger and survivors of the deceased, as well as both of our clients, filed claims against the grandmother/driver. With a policy limit of $500,000 for multiple plaintiffs, the amount was insufficient to compensate the plaintiffs for all damages. Negotiations were extremely complex as there was a limited policy limit for 1 death and 3 severely injured claimants. Defendants hired an asset protection attorney to evaluate and shield their exempt/non-exempt assets.
Dale Minami and Eunice Yang represented the Plaintiffs and argued that while it is unfortunate that one claimant from the other vehicle had perished, the other passenger would make a full-recovery, while our clients, two very young girls suffered permanent, life-altering injuries, including the possibility that neither may be able to have children once they reach adulthood.
Mr. Minami and Ms. Yang also argued that the passenger of the other vehicle had significantly lower medical bills, since she was a Medi-Cal patient, while our clients had significantly higher medical bills with Kaiser. Further, because Minor 1 and 2 were insured under their father who was a postal worker, their medical insurance plan was governed under the Federal Employees’ Health Benefits Act, which preempts favorable state laws that requires Kaiser to reduce its medical liens. Accordingly, Minami and Yang argued that Minor 1 and 2’s economic damages were significantly higher than the passenger in the other vehicle.
After months of negotiations, the parties ultimately reached a resolution which divided the insurance policy limits of $500,000 amongst the claimants, as well as a contribution of $250,000 of the grandmother’s own personal money to the settlement to divide amongst the claimants. Ultimately, Minami and Yang were able to secure a $360,000 settlement for our clients, who received $180,000 each. Our clients’ settlement money was placed in a blocked bank account until they reach the age of 18.